Adrenal tumors can be either cancerous or non-cancerous. However, it takes a lot of diagnosis and follow ups to figure out if it is cancerous or not. An adrenal tumor can refer to a part of the adrenal gland known as the malignant neoplasms or the benign. In some situations these body parts over produce endocrine hormones which cause the tumors.
Symptoms for an adrenal tumor vary and can be attributed to either under ( or over production of the endocrine hormones. Symptoms may include several of the following: obesity, moon-shaped face, increased fat in neck region, bruising easily, severe fatigue (a milder case of this is called adrenal fatigue), weak muscles, and high blood pressure. Symptoms may also include: headaches, high blood salt levels, frequent urination, high blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat.
Inside the Adrenal Cortex there are three different layers of cells. These endocrine cells produce the steroids that are necessary. The glucocorticoids are included in this area and they regulate blood sugar, the immune system, and stress. Then there is the mineral corticoid aldosterone which regulates blood pressure, kidney functions, and sex drive.
Benign tumors of the adrenal cortex are extremely common and usually found on up to 10% of people once an autopsy has been performed. However this is usually confused with adrenocortical nodules which aren’t neoplasms.
Adenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare form of cancer that is caused by the adrenal cortical cells. This cancer may be rare however it’s extremely aggressive and can occur in both children and adults. It tends to grow deep inside the retroperitoneum, thriving in the largest of your veins. Due to its location this type of cancer is hard to detect until it becomes large in size. While surgery can be used to remove the cancer, it is usually not preferred. Most patients must use chemotherapy, radiation, or hormonal therapy to recover.
There are two other types of cancer that are located in the adrenal medulla, which is the center of your adrenal glands. This part of your adrenal has neuroendocrine cells which create and release adrenaline into the bloodstream. The first type of tumor is known as Neuroblastoma and is an aggressive cancer most often detected in children by the age of two. Although it will spread to the rest of the body it is often curable when limited to the liver, skin, and one marrow. Pheochromocytoma tumers can be found in this area as well, although they have both malignant and benign. This type of cancer crops up in all ages and produces adrenaline.